Chapter 2.11 – A Private Matter

Warning: toxic, painful

The room fell silent as Caleb stormed in, but if he realised this, he didn’t show it. He disappeared into the bathroom and slammed the door without so much as a glance in their direction, let alone a greeting.

The three girls looked at each other before Melinda stood up, quickly followed by April and Faith.

“Where are you going?” April asked.

“To talk to him,” Melinda said. “We need to sort this out.”

“No,” April pleaded. “He’s my boyfriend, I should do it.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? When he’s angry? After what we were just discussing?” Faith asked.

“He’s not going to lose it,” April replied. “Not while you two are right here. Let me try.”

Melinda looked to Faith before she nodded. “Fine, go ahead. But if he upsets you again—“

“I’ll kick his sexist fucking ass,” Faith muttered.

April rapped her knuckles lightly on the bathroom door. “Caleb? Are you OK?”

Caleb was leaning against the sink, his dark memories still fluttering, unsettled, in his mind. For years, goddamn centuries he’d been trying to experience genuine remorse for his actions and now finally he was here, absolutely drowning in it.

He’d never felt any less OK.

“I’m fine.”

There was a pause. Hushed, angry whispers on the other side of the door before she spoke again. “Can I come in?”

He didn’t want her to come in. He didn’t want to see her, but he couldn’t hide in here forever. She slipped inside the dark room and hesitated before closing the door behind her.

“Ew!” April grimaced. “It’s even more gross in here than out there!”

He knew that it was an off-hand comment, but Caleb sighed. It was just another thing he hadn’t done right.

April took her time, looking at all the dirty fixtures. He could hear her wondering how she went from marble floors and gold taps to this so quickly before she remembered why she was there.

“What happened?” she asked gently. “Did they not let you buy alcohol?”

Damn it. He’d been so preoccupied that he’d left his shopping in the car park.

He didn’t know what to tell her. He didn’t want to talk about Seth and his ‘coffee date’ and he didn’t want to admit to April that she was bound to a monster for eternity. He didn’t want her to be disappointed in him or worse, afraid of him. The desire to keep her, to protect her was so strong, overwhelming; was that all part of the binding too?

Was he feeling anything real at all?

“Nothing,” he managed, his voice sounding hollow. “It’s nothing. I’m just feeling a bit down. Everything that’s happened this week… it’s a lot to process.”

April brightened. “I know! To think that a month ago I didn’t even know you, this time last week I thought you’d abandoned me forever and now we’re on the run together! Madness!”

“Madness,” he repeated, scanning her face. She looked content, but was she? “April, tell me. Are you happy?”

April’s smile disappeared and he heard her thoughts abruptly change course. It dawned on him that he’d just given her a instruction.

It was that easy to control her. It was terrifying.

Oh hell. He wanted to take that back, but that meant giving her another instruction. It was a bloody minefield. He could hear her forming a hundred answers in her mind and none of them were the straight-forward one he was hoping for.

“Like you said, it’s been a lot. If I’m honest, you’re not really what I was expecting. Most of the time you’re nice but your dark form scares me. A bit.” Her voice was so quiet that even he struggled to hear her. “Not so much how you look but more how you act.”

He thought of Lilith and her blind fury. “I can understand that.”

April carried on, barely above a whisper. “It’s almost like… like you’re two people? Sweet, kind Caleb and… and…”

A monster.

Slipping form was a sure sign that he was on the verge of losing all control. It was only triggered by rage and his most primal urges and thanks to Lilith’s contactless food source and Caleb’s general isolation, he had successfully managed it.

Until now. Now he could sink his fangs into anyone he wished. Now he was constantly around this gorgeous, tempting creature.

Now, all he had left at his disposal was willpower.

She was remembering him shouting at her on the waterfront, but it was his other loss of control that haunted her more. Damn; he really wanted to forget that, he wanted her to forget that.

Could he instruct her to forget? And if he could, should he?

“April the other night, at Marjorie’s. When we—“

“It’s OK,” she said immediately, turning away, staring at the wall. He could hear her gathering some interesting thoughts, so he waited for her to speak again. “Well, no actually. No it’s not OK at all, is it? It shouldn’t be like that, should it?”

That’s what Melinda just told me, anyway.

“How the heck would she know?!”

He’d been caught completely by surprise; he hadn’t intended that to sound angry. But as he felt the cold flash over his eyes, his skin, he watched her pretty face freeze, panic; her words spluttered as choked whispers.

“Did I say that out loud? I’m really sorry! I didn’t mean to tell them! I didn’t want to! I tried to downplay it!”

Rooted to the spot, her mind had gone somewhere else entirely; Caleb could hear the echoes of Sandy’s voice and April’s only remaining independent thought. Please don’t hit me.

Holy hell. He was way out of his depth. “We should join the others—“

She couldn’t appear to hear him. She mumbled on, “Mel notices everything; she’s, like, a genius. She always noticed when mother gave me new… new marks and she saw the teeth ones you gave me. She asked how our date went, if you were unrestrained like you’d feared and I said… I said you’d shouted at me. I know I shouldn’t have! She said that you told them that ‘the curse’ takes over you? That the other night you were bragging that you now had ownership of me? And Mel was being so kind to me and Faith was so very cross and I was so sad and it just all came rushing out. Please, Caleb. Please, please don’t be mad at me.”

“I… I’m not.”

“It was almost funny, you know? Trying to describe everything; I thought I was going to die of embarrassment.” April laughed in a delirious way. “Faith told me what everything was called, so at least I know that now. Unless she made some up to tease me, which she might have done, but she wasn’t smiling. I said that it was all my idea, but they said that didn’t mean I had to do those things. That I was still allowed to tell you ‘no’ even though I started the whole thing. Faith was super cross about that and Mel called you a ‘flipping poo-head’.”

“Right.”

“I’m really, really sorry. I know I shouldn’t have said anything. It was very wrong of me. I should know better. Stupid girl!” April fumbled with a button on her skirt, her eyes cast down. When she spoke again, she sounded just like her mother. “This is a private matter, April; no-one else needs to know.”

“No, April. You’re wrong. I mean, you’re not wrong, your mother was wrong. And I was definitely in the wrong,” Caleb said. “Your friends are right, about the lot of it. Always tell them everything. Tell everyone everything.” He stopped, listening to her thoughts abruptly changing track, going haywire in her effort to fit these demands in with her existing, warped logic.

Seth’s voice echoed through Caleb’s head. She’ll attempt to do anything you ask of her, even to her own detriment.

“All right, forget I said that. No, don’t forget it entirely, I mean… holy hell, this is a disaster. I really don’t know what I’m doing. I am so sorry, April.”

“I forgive you,” April said, automatically. She brightened. “Aren’t we the pitiful pair? I came in here to cheer you up and just ended up making us both feel more sad. I should have let Mel come in; she’s still a bit upset but she’s always calm. Not like Faith; she says she’s going to kick your ass.”

He frowned. “That’s fine.”

“She probably won’t,” April said. “She can be quite nasty though. But they know that I love you so they’ll forgive you—“

“You think you love me?”

Her train of thought abruptly ended again. “I think so? You saved me.”

This was surely it. He’d reached the very bottom of the pit of shame, he could go no lower. “I didn’t save you! I’ve burned your whole world down!”

April suddenly looked deadly serious. She leaned in towards Caleb and started making small sweeping motions around them both using her finger. “Shoo! Shoo! Be gone!”

Damn me to hell! Now I’ve completely broken her brain.

In the softest voice he could manage, he asked, “April, sweetheart… what are you doing?”

“…Sweeping away the demons,” April replied, in a small voice.

Caleb blinked at her. “Demons?”

“The things that make you sad. It’s something Broof used to do with me, when I was a little girl. His grandmother in Glimmerbrook used to do it when he was a boy. Broof’s demon was called Claudia; he said that she haunted him all the time. Mine was called BonBonSindyBelle but she would only appear when mother was cross with me.” She looked up, sheepishly. “I know it’s silly, but when Broof used to sweep me with his clothes brush and say ‘Shoo, BonBonSindyBelle!’ it always stopped me crying and made me laugh.”

When Caleb didn’t respond, April swept her finger at him, giggling. “Shoo! Be gone, Boris!”

“My demon is called Boris?” He had no idea how to react to this. “And you can simply brush him away?”

“You must be able to because you’re smiling now.”

Indeed he was. “You’re so weird, April.”

Sadness flashed across her features again. She sighed. “I know. ‘There’s Weird April, always got her head in the clouds, blurting out her random shit.’ Forget I said it.” She turned to leave, but he appeared in front of her, blocking her way.

“Don’t go. I meant weird in a good way. It was probably the wrong word to use.” He tilted her face until she looked at him. “I really like your strange little quirks, April.”

“You do?”

“I like everything about you.”

As he brushed his nose against hers, she gently pulled away.

“Caleb, is it OK if I don’t kiss you? Not never, but just not right now? Not just because we’re standing in a gross bathroom next to a disgusting toilet, but I just think, maybe, we should slow everything right down.” April cast her eyes down. “I know that’s what you wanted to do in the first place and I really don’t understand why I was so keen to rush everything. It’s very unlike me to be so aggressive.”

“That’s funny, because it’s quite unlike me to be so tame—” Caleb began, as Seth piped up again. I see you’ve already started trading.

It took a while for Caleb to find his remaining words. “But yes. Yes of course it’s fine to slow things down. I understand.”

“I haven’t been feeling like myself, lately,” she admitted, quietly. “Is that something to do with the vampirism?”

He needed to tell her. Could he tell her? Should he? He tried to imagine how she would react if she knew that instead of being saved, she’d been taken prisoner for eternity by a complete imbecile. That he was robbing her of her innocence, her sweetness, herself and replacing it with… him.

You wouldn’t want her becoming disillusioned, like so many before her. You might both lose your heads.

“It’s just teething problems, right? Everything will sort itself out eventually, won’t it? I hope it does.” She laughed, it was strained. “Before I go totally insane.”

“Yes,” he agreed. “I hope so, too.”

We’re doomed.

28 thoughts on “Chapter 2.11 – A Private Matter

  1. That’s a lot of disclaimers, lol. I’d say that for these two, that conversation went well. The demon part was sweet. Yes, on the whole they continue to be messed up, but that’s nothing new. I’d argue that everything new in this chapter was actually more on the positive side. Caleb his not equipped to deal with this situation at all, but he is trying, and thanks to April seems to have more self-awareness than we’ve ever seen. It will be interesting to see how April responds when she does learn the truth – though by then who knows how she’ll think anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh bollocks. I forgot to remove my additional disclaimer options, which I have now done. In case anyone’s reading this and is like… ‘Plumbob whatchu on about, there’s only two disclaimers’. She’s not seeing things and neither are you. 😆

      Positive? OK, I’ll take that. No, Caleb is very much not equipped for this. But he’s sort of ill-equipped for the world in general so what else is new? 🌞

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Playing devil’s advocate, what if Caleb one day decides he doesn’t like the feeling of remorse and rather go back to his old non-empathetic self. Y’know like. “I have enough of feeling like a dump. Take back your feelings!” o.o

    So.. Lilith in dark form has blind fury and Caleb in dark form has blind cravings. (Though Liilith cooled down enough to not snub Caleb straight away so maybe it’s not that blind for Lilith yet.) His words ‘the desire to keep her, to protect her was so strong/overwhelming’ is actually a double-edged sword. It makes me think of when Caleb lost control in the first season. He entered his dark form not by fury but because April tried to break up with him. That’s worrying actually. Caleb is already a ticking time bomb, but this amplifies it. I would really like to counter my own thoughts by saying his self-deprecation might maybe provide some cushioning, but hrrrm.

    Mel and Faith totally pulled good cop bad cop on April xD

    I’m very curious about Mel now. Faith is experienced. But it was never outlined where Mel stood on the topic. In fact, I think Mel is the most hidden of all your character and I’ve been bugging you for her pov for awhile now. 😀 Why are you keeping her such a mystery snuffy! My brain is going everywhere on her.

    Aww at least April has a reason for the odd and adorable things she says! Broof is interesting. So far April has only fond memories of the guy, but she was still abused by Sandy. I wonder where exactly did he stand. (Btw I got totally creeped out when I saw toddler April and Sandy + fam on your gallery) Need a 20 inch pogo stick to get her far away from April.

    Caleb’s is trading his patience over towards April? O_o DAMN!!!! I was wondering about this throughout your chapter. How did April become so gentle and mature and sweet. I thought maybe being with Caleb has quelled some of her insecurities, but that would be too quick. Dang. Caleb has a lot of resilience and restraint which he’s sharing with her. And April is gradually being influenced by his lack of remorse. On the flip, uh, darker side, they both have low esteem so there’s no trade going on there… xD

    I do hope they find a sweet middle ground though. Like.. these two are actually being really sweet and supportive here, Caleb is able to empathise April’s triggers and de-escalate them, April (though she had her thoughts jumbled several times) was being very kind and diplomatic, and holding a leveled discussion on his ‘inappropriateness’. So if Caleb finds a way to somewhat keep that gauge half–filled for both of them, and not be completely enamoured by his complete power over her, they could work… But as much as I want that to happen, I’m strapping my seatbelts on for now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. what if Caleb one day decides he doesn’t like the feeling of remorse and rather go back to his old non-empathetic self. Y’know like. “I have enough of feeling like a dump. Take back your feelings!” o.o

      Ooh, that’s really interesting! I wonder if it’s possible for them to continue swapping over, back and forth, like an hourglass, or if the exchanges are more permanent!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. He could totally do that. With a past like Caleb’s, is ‘getting better’ better than feeling nothing?

      Oh yes, the possessiveness is certainly a thing. A ticking time bomb might be right, especially as he’s being lit from all sides right about now.

      Faith and Melinda should go work for the WBPD, they’d be a whole load better than the clowns that currently work there. Cases might actually get solved, rather than dumped on the desk of a man who’s bum up in a river somewhere.

      Waaaaay back in chapter… one sec… 1.10 Melinda tells you how ‘experienced’ she is. If you can’t be arsed to read back, she’s as pure as fallen snow. But you know, her dad’s a gent, her mum will have no doubt had a few awkward sex chats with her and Faith literally just spews filth the whole time, she’s gonna learn a few things about how stuff should go down, right? You start getting more from Melinda from next chapter and there’s a POV chapter lined up for her with fun flashbacks and everything. Yay.

      Broof is gonna be a long, slow reveal, sorry. I’m trying to control a fucktonne of fire here in 2000 word segments. Gimme chance. 😆 Ah, the gallery family. Yes, I thought if anyone wanted to download the characters and play through a much happier alternative life for them, they could. So far no one has, so I’m content that I’m giving them their best lives.

      All this ‘what’s being swapped, who had what?’ stuff should hopefully become clearer when their nearest and dearest start remembering how they both used to be. Or it’ll just get even more complicated. I have a chart (stop laughing) that has their traits and who’s got more of what at any one point in the story, so I don’t blame all you chart-less people for being hella confused right about now. if all else fails, just assume they’re both sort of a mess and roll with it.

      See, at the start, everyone was rooting for these two to be a trainwreck. I delivered, and now everyone wants them to not be a trainwreck. Which is kinda hard to undo as I went for the ‘complete fucking carnage’ trainwreck option. But I’ll try. Maybe.

      Like

  3. I see my guess was wrong, but it made me wonder why April chooses to tell about her gloomy night with Caleb right now?
    Maybe it’s because I have not fully understood the course of time … This whole nightmare is the course of a single month ?!

    For Caleb, it’s a sinful fall. Everything he has gained from self-control and memory failure over hundreds of years is lost in a brief moment.
    It is as if all the participants in this story are boarding a carousel that with increasing speed threatens to throw them over the edge.
    In my eyes, April and Caleb still look like two immature children trying to behave like adults. Their mutual care is at the same time touching as catastrophic.
    The whole spin with the two that end up exchanging personality is very interesting …. and maybe not completely without teams in reality. I have met older couples who have adopted each other’s opinions to such an extent that it is difficult to separate one from the other.
    Here, everything just happens at insane speed 😵

    I was really amused when I read about April’s attempt to remove Caleb’s demons … and Caleb’s incomprehensible question “Is my demon named Boris?” 😆🤣
    I don ‘t think I’m done laughing yet. 😂

    I do not have much to say about the others now … only that no one seems to be able to get off the carousel.
    (Maybe if Lilith finds the plasma fruit? ….. Oops! Was that a beep in my brain?😲 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I move very fast and yet very slowly at the same time. 😂 When the girls first arrived in Forgotten Hollow, it was 30th April and this chapter happens on 8th May. It’s only been a couple of days since that fateful night of action and the first time the girls have been alone long enough to talk properly. And well, you know Faith. If she can bring up sex in a conversation, she will, whether April wanted to talk about it, or not.

      Isn’t it amazing/tragic how sometimes, everything you work for can be destroyed by a single action or a single event? Some of the characters are definitely going to be thrown abruptly from the carousel. But others will just be enjoying the ride.

      I have also met couples where it’s hard to tell where one ends the other begins. I call them ‘marriage blobs’ and that concept applies here, but yes, at superspeed. At the moment, neither April or Caleb really understand what’s going on, but it’ll hopefully become clearer soon, to them and us.

      Boris just seemed like such a ridiculous name for a demon. Once that had popped into my head, I couldn’t think of anything else. 😆

      Ooh! Have you heard a beep? Keep listening; I promise that there are plenty of beeps hiding in here, somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hoo boy. Looks like I’m the odd one out again with some very different thoughts on this chapter. Woo! Though the last bit with Boris and BonBonSindyBelle (how did you even come up with that name? xD) was very sweet. A flicker of innocent goodwill among a sea of rapidly increasing darkness. I really wonder about Broof now, too.

    April’s behaviour is finally starting to make sense. Poor girl. The part where Caleb lost his temper and yelled at her, and she immediately panic-froze, defaulted to Sandy and thought he was going to hit her was heartbreaking. And then her blaming herself for his outburst. The entire chapter tugged on my heartstrings in the worst way, but that moment stood out to me the most. They’re so so very dysfunctional. And poor April can’t help it. She doesn’t even want to kiss him now. No wonder Caleb was so good at showing restraint before.

    Caleb’s line of overwhelmingly feeling like he wants to keep and protect her are scary, too. He lost his temper and slipped into his dark form over April merely thinking that Melinda disapproved of their relationship. I wonder if Caleb subconsciously interpreted that as a threat, and that’s why he responded so aggressively.

    Dangit, I told myself I wouldn’t analyze too much but I just can’t help myself. xD The layers and hidden secrets that you spin around us my gods. It’s amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Which name, Boris or BonBonSindyBelle? If it’s the former, it was helpfully suggested to me by my friend who is a secret expert in demonology and if it’s the latter? When sobbing six year old April came up with that herself, Broof was hardly going to tell her it was stupid, was he? Bless.

      And… you’re not the odd one out; the disclaimers agree with you and they’re there for a reason. And – for that reason – I’m afraid this reply is gonna have to be as cryptic and vague as your comment (I see you) and you’ll know why.

      “She doesn’t even want to kiss him now. No wonder Caleb was so good at showing restraint before” and “I wonder if Caleb subconsciously interpreted that as a threat, and that’s why he responded so aggressively.” How’s the view from the edge of that cliff, Yimi?

      Layers? Secrets? Nah, all straightforward, this. Clearly. 😇

      Liked by 1 person

      1. [How’s the view from the edge of that cliff, Yimi?]

        You know the phrase “l’appel du vide” or the call of the void? It’s that. I’m practicing for a swan dive. Maybe grab a dragon floatie just in case. Bring some scacks to distract the demons with. xD

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Nah, don’t worry ^^ until Snuffy reveals the truth, we’re both right, on this as well as Seth and Lilith. Cat-in-the-box and all. If this makes no sense to you just ignore it, lalalala-

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Ho-ly shit. I’ve finished my binge and am now up-to-date and I am…speechless.

    The toxicity of their relationship is fascinating. I don’t know whether to look away or stare it right in the eye. On the one hand, they are both trapped. And I do understand why Caleb is hesitating to tell her. Self-preservation is a hell of a drug. In a way, it seems like this is the first time he is having to take responsibility for all of this, sort of like when April had her freak-out. It’s one thing to be saddled with all those feelings, it’s another thing to get to ignore them because someone will always fill the space for you.

    Speaking of which, I’m gonna go ahead and say Lilith needs to get on the search for that mysterious fruit. If for no other reason than it’s something she does for herself. I see her already plotting for how she is going to sweep in and save the day. She is addicted to fixing things. In the same way, Seth is addicted to hiding from all his feelings with those murders.

    They are all running, even if they don’t look like it. I’m just curious about who is going to have a showdown with their demons first.

    I am so enjoying seeing what other people are doing with these characters! In my story, Caleb and Lilith have a completely different personality. It’s fantastic what everyone does with just the light dusting of backstory and lore.

    Have I mentioned being team Seth recently? Man, me and that store clerk would both be marching to our deaths.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is definitely the first time Caleb’s taking responsibility for anything and now it’s complicated by all these damn feelings he’s having. Lilith always saves the day and fixes things! Just look at her brother; he turned out great! Seth murders to hide his feelings? Intense.

      Yes; isn’t it fun how we can all look at the same things and see something so very different?

      Seth’s always hungry for action so send me over your simself and who knows, he might take a liking to you… 🤭

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ::sips my morning coffee, checking work emails and wordpress::

        ::reads your last sentence::

        ::silently tells self to remain chill::

        ::whispers “this is not a drill” and stares off into the distance::

        Like

  6. Okay, this is a lot and yet I don´t have many words again. Not he same way as before, just… what do I even say? We already established these two are a trainwreck. Oh! I totally support them staying a trainwreck if that´s what you wanna do, by the way. 😀 I mean, they can´t really /not/ be anyway, now that they are stuck together, right.

    Caleb is kind of making progress, though… I wondered where he even took all the compassion from for a moment there, because April sure seemed more than a bit manipulative herself. But then I realized it isn´t really compassion, just pure guilt. And that definitely comes from April, the poor girl blames herself even for stuff that totally isn´t any of her fault. I suppose striking a balance on this thing /would/ help them both a lot. But yes, definitely gotta be careful. This whole thing is tricky and finicky and they are both like elephants in a china shop. XP

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like writing for April/Caleb (or AC Trainwreck as they are affectionately known). I really like exploring the ‘deer in headlights’ scenario they’re both in. They might work out all the issues and become the love story of the century, but I’m glad you have realistic expectations. 😂

      Like

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